Pro-government candidates and opponents of President Nicolas Maduro split Venezuela’s disputed mayoral elections Sunday, prolonging a political stalemate in the face of mounting economic problems. Members of Maduro’s socialist party were declared victors by the National Electoral Council in 196 of 335 municipalities up for grabs, while the opposition took 53 and independent candidate won eight races. The remaining 78 contests were too close to call. The opposition, which won 46 municipalities in the 2008 elections, held control of the country’s two biggest cities, Caracas and Maracaibo, and took at least four state capitals currently in the hands of government supporters, including Barinas, the hometown of the late President Hugo Chavez. But opposition forces failed to capitalize on discontent with galloping inflation and worsening shortages to win the much-watched national total vote and achieve its goal of punishing Maduro in his first electoral test since he defeated opposition leader Henrique Capriles for the presidency by a razor-thin margin in April.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected a series of legal challenges to the narrow election victory of President Nicolás Maduro, closing a chapter in what has been a bitter aftermath of the vote to replace the country’s popular longtime leader, Hugo Chávez. The court also ordered the opposition candidate, Henrique Capriles, who lost to Mr. Maduro by one and a half percentage points, to pay a fine of $1,698 for insulting government authority by challenging the election results and accusing the judicial system of bias in favor of the government. It said that was the maximum fine allowed. The court also asked the national prosecutor to open a criminal investigation of Mr. Capriles on charges of offending the authority of government institutions.
After Nicolás Maduro narrowly won Venezuela’s presidential election on April 14th, his chief opponent, Henrique Capriles, immediately disputed the result. Two months later, the government is still struggling to put the issue of its legitimacy to rest, both at home and abroad. The latest attempt came this week from the president of the National Electoral Council (CNE), Tibisay Lucena. She claimed that a laborious audit of the tallies produced by electronic voting machines against the paper receipts that correspond to each vote had confirmed that Mr Maduro had indeed won by 1.49 percentage points.
Venezuela’s Electoral Council has completed an audit of results from April’s bitterly contested presidential election, and as expected it confirmed Nicolas Maduro’s 1.5 percentage-point victory. No government official appeared publicly to comment on the outcome, but an official at the council confirmed on Sunday a report by the state-run AVN news agency that the audit supported the official vote count. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to divulge the information. The opposition has complained that the council ignored its demand for a full recount. That would have included not just comparing votes electronically registered by machines with the paper ballot receipts they emitted, but also comparing those with the poll station registries that contain voter signatures and with digitally recorded fingerprints.
Venezuela: Does Capriles Have a Plausible Claim, or Is He “Venezuela’s Sore Loser”? | Venezuelanalysis.com
Reuters reported Sunday that the president of Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE) Tibisay Lucena has criticized opposition candidate Henrique Capriles for not presenting proof to back up his claims of fraud (also the focus of our post earlier today): “We have always insisted that Capriles had the right to challenge the process,” Tibisay Lucena, president of the electoral council, said in a televised national broadcast. But it is also his obligation to present proof.” She dismissed various opposition submissions alleging voting irregularities as lacking key details, and said Capriles had subsequently tried to present the audit in very different terms than the electoral council had agreed to.
The petition website designed to give citizens “a direct line to the White House on the issues and concerns that matter most” is proving popular outside the U.S. as well. An April 15 We the People petition asking the Obama administration to urge a recount in the Venezuelan presidential election skyrocketed to nearly 100,000 signatures in just two days online, making it one of the fastest growing petitions ever posted to the 19-month-old White House website. The petition has now received 124,000 signatures and is the second most popular unanswered petition on We the People. It was filed the day after Nicolas Maduro, the handpicked successor of Venezuela’s late President Hugo Chavez, narrowly defeated challenger Henrique Capriles Radonski to win the South American nation’s top office. Capriles has challenged the result, citing voting irregularities.
Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles, who says recent presidential elections won by the ruling Socialist Party were marred by fraud and voter intimidation, demanded Monday that new elections be called, and said he would take his case to the Supreme Court. Speaking to reporters, Mr. Capriles acknowledged that arguing before the Supreme Court will be an uphill battle given its justices support the ruling party, but said it’s a necessary, final “local” step before he presents his case to international tribunals. “I have no doubt this will have to end up in international courts,” he said.
Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE) Monday began a partial recount of votes cast in the contested April 14 presidential elections, which saw Nicolas Maduro win by a razor-thin margin, local media reported. The auditing process, which is being boycotted by the opposition, calls for a technical board to inspect 12,000 ballot boxes in 30 days, as approved last Friday by Venezuela’s electoral authorities. In the next few days, auditors are to be selected and trained for the review of a random selection of 46 percent of ballot boxes that were not already audited on election day.
Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles has rejected official plans for an audit of the presidential vote that he narrowly lost to Nicolás Maduro this month. Capriles is calling for a fresh ballot, but this is certain to be refused by senior ruling party officials, who have threatened to have Capriles arrested for allegedly colluding with the US to foment unrest. The government detained 270 protesters during clashes that followed the disputed vote on 14 April. On Thursday it held an American film-maker who was accused of working for US intelligence to sow discord among students.
Wednesday, Henrique Capriles went on television to demand the CNE offer his data as part of the [election] audit. The government of Nicolás Maduro quickly insisted that all television stations go to cadena, [where all channels must broadcast the same message from the government] in order to broadcast a prerecorded infomercial accusing Mr. Capriles of instigating violence. This had the added effect of blocking the Capriles press conference from the few stations that were broadcasting it. Miguel has the specifics of Capriles campaign’s audit request from Venezuela’s CNE. Capriles wants the audit to look at who voted and how the fingerprint scanners that are supposed to prevent double voting functioned. For years, the opposition criticized the fingerprint scanners as an unnecessary intimidation while the government insisted the scanners are necessary to prevent voter fraud. So there is a bit of irony in that the Capriles campaign now wants the fingerprint data to be audited to look for voter fraud while the government is fighting against that effort as somehow unnecessary. Going through the voter records and fingerprint data is a completely legitimate request in the audit and within Capriles’s rights as a candidate.
Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles Radonski said Thursday his movement will boycott an audit of the election results and push the government to hold a new presidential vote. Capriles said the opposition would not participate in the audit because the National Electoral Council did not meet its demand for an examination of registers containing voters’ signatures and fingerprints. He said the opposition would go to the Supreme Court to challenge the results of the April 14 election, which was narrowly won by Nicolás Maduro, the handpicked successor of President Hugo Chávez, an anti-American leader who died from cancer.
After fourteen years of Hugo Chávez’s personalist leadership, Venezuelans took their first steps into a brave new world of political contestation on April 14 when they elected a president to fulfill Chávez’s term. The fireworks that marked the aggressive campaign are, in a sense, still going off. The unexpectedly close special presidential election between interim president Nicolás Maduro and opposition candidate Henrique Capriles, with a difference of 1.8 percent of the vote (or 272,865 votes), was followed by postelection turmoil in the streets and opposing international calls for either a vote recount or immediate recognition of Maduro’s slim victory.
Venezuela cut off the transmission of a speech by opposition leader Henrique Capriles Radonski yesterday using a system of national broadcasts known as “cadena” after he said this month’s election was “robbed.” Capriles said he would give the national electoral council until today to announce news of an expanded vote audit before his speech, broadcast on the Globovision television network, was interrupted to play a recorded government message. “The cadena shows the fear they have about Venezuelans defending their rights,” Capriles said. “If they are so sure, let them audit the vote.”
Amid persistent political tension in Venezuela, the CNE election authority accepted opposition candidate Henrique Capriles’s request for a review of 100 percent of the ballots cast in last weekend’s special presidential election. CNE chair Tibisay Lucena said in a televised statement late Thursday that authorities would proceed to audit the 46 percent of ballot boxes that were not subject to a recount on election day. The Venezuelan electoral system relies on electronic voting backed up by paper ballots and the CNE automatically reviews a random sample of 54 percent of the votes to detect discrepancies between the electronic tabulation and the paper records.
Venezuela stepped up attacks on the United States, threatening retaliatory measures affecting trade and energy if Washington resorts to sanctions in a row over the country’s disputed presidential election. Vowing not to go back on the late Hugo Chavez’s revolution, President Nicolas Maduro said at a swearing-in ceremony for his new cabinet, “There will be no pact here of any kind with the bourgeoisie. Make no mistake.” He accused the United States of threatening Venezuela, and spoke with approval of the warning to Washington leveled earlier in the day by Foreign Minister Elias Jaua in Guayaquil, Ecuador. “If the United States takes recourse to economic sanctions, or sanctions of any other kind, we will take measures of a commercial, energy, economic and political order that we consider necessary,” Jaua said in a television interview.
In the carnival-mirror world of Venezuelan politics, Nicolás Maduro was sworn in as president on Friday, just hours after election officials agreed to carry out a partial recount of the vote result, which opponents hoped could lead to its being overturned. Women with fake mustaches showed support for Mr. Maduro during the swearing-in ceremonies. His win is being contested. Mr. Maduro was elected Sunday by a narrow margin less than six weeks after the death of his mentor, Hugo Chávez, the charismatic socialist. He beat Henrique Capriles Radonski, who refused to recognize the results and called for a recount, claiming that he was the true winner. Tensions ran high afterward, with protests, scattered violence and both sides blaming the other for several deaths. The inauguration was delayed for hours because Mr. Maduro had been in Lima, Peru, until well past midnight at a special meeting of the Union of South American Nations, which had been called to discuss the situation in Venezuela.
Venezuela’s electoral council announced Thursday night that it would audit the 46 percent the vote not scrutinized on election night in a concession to opposition candidate Henrique Capriles, who said he believes it will prove he is the president. “We are where we want to be,” a satisfied but cautious-looking Capriles told a news conference after the announcement. “I think I will have the universe of voters needed to get where I want to be.”
Venezuela’s President-elect Nicolas Maduro has agreed to a full audit of the votes cast as the opposition continues to contest the country’s closest election in 45 years. Mr Maduro’s campaign chief, Jorge Rodriguez, made the announcement after opposition leader Henrique Capriles called off a march on Wednesday to protest against the results of Sunday’s presidential election. Mr Capriles, who requested a manual recount of the 15 million votes, acted after Mr Maduro said he would come down with a ”firm hand” on opposition supporters and violence led to eight deaths.
A manual recount of votes isn’t possible in Venezuela, the head of the country’s Supreme Court said Wednesday, suggesting there is no legal basis for the opposition’s push for a ballot-by-ballot audit of the narrow presidential election results. In nationally televised remarks, Venezuelan Chief Justice Luisa Estella Morales said Venezuela’s 1999 constitution eliminated manual recounts in favor of a “system audit.” “In Venezuela the electoral system is completely automated. Therefore, a manual count does not exist. Anyone who thought that could really happen has been deceived,” she said. “The majority of those who are asking for a manual count know it and are clear about it. Elections are not audited ballot by ballot but through the system.”
Venezuela: Options narrow for opposition as Supreme Court chief says no way for vote recount | The Washington Post
Venezuela’s opposition watched its options dwindle Wednesday after the head of the Supreme Court said there could be no recount of the razor-thin presidential election victory by Hugo Chavez’s heir, leaving many government foes feeling the only chance at power is to wait for the ruling socialists to stumble. Opposition activists and independent observers called the judge’s declaration blatant and legally unfounded favoritism from a purportedly independent body that is packed with confederates of President-elect Nicolas Maduro, Chavez’s hand-picked successor. The recount issue isn’t before the court, but its president, Luisa Morales, appeared on television at midday to declare that the opposition call for an examination of each and every paper vote receipt had “angered many Venezuelans.”
Venezuela: US calls for Venezuela election recount after narrow win for Nicolás Maduro | guardian.co.uk
The United States is hesitating to recognise Nicolás Maduro as president of Venezuela and has called for a recount of the vote from Sunday’s closely fought election. The procrastination is likely to embolden Venezuela’s opposition and enrage many on the left in Latin America, who have long accused the US of interfering in the region’s politics. The US secretary of state, John Kerry, said he had yet to evaluate whether the disputed result was legitimate when asked about the matter by members of the House of Representatives. “We think there ought to be a recount,” he told the foreign affairs committee in reference to Venezuelan opposition demands for a full audit of the vote.
Venezuela’s government on Monday defended a presidential election that authorities said gave interim leader Nicolas Maduro a six-year term, backtracking on a pledge he had made to permit an audit of ballots demanded by the opposition after the razor-thin victory. Henrique Capriles, who had challenged Maduro in the Sunday election, which was held six weeks after President Hugo Chavez’s death, insisted that he had won the vote and called for a hand count of all the paper ballots.
Venezuela: Opposition candidate demands recount after Chavez’s heir Nicolas Maduro wins Venezuela presidency | Fox News
Hugo Chavez’s hand-picked successor, Nicolas Maduro, won a razor-thin victory in Sunday’s special presidential election, edging the opposition’s leader by only about 300,000 votes, electoral officials announced. His challenger, Henrique Capriles, declared that he wouldn’t accept the results and called for a full recount. Maduro’s stunningly close victory came after a campaign in which the winner promised to carry on Chavez’s self-proclaimed socialist revolution while Capriles’ main message was that Chavez’s 14-year regime put Venezuela on the road to ruin.
Both sides in Venezuela’s political stand-off will hold rival demonstrations on Tuesday after authorities rejected opposition demands for a presidential election recount and protesters clashed with police in Caracas. Opposition leader Henrique Capriles says his team’s figures show he won the election on Sunday and he wants a full audit of official results that narrowly gave victory to ruling party candidate Nicolas Maduro, the country’s acting president.
Denouncing election irregularities, Venezuelan opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski demanded a recount and said early Monday that he will not recognize the country’s presidential results “until every vote is counted.” His comments came less than an hour after officials said the man former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez handpicked to be his successor had won the country’s presidential vote. With 99% of votes counted, Nicolas Maduro won 50.66% of votes, National Electoral Council President Tibisay Lucena said, calling the results “irreversible.” Capriles won 49.07% of votes, she said.
Venezuelans went to hi-tech polling booths on Sunday for the first presidential election of the post-Hugo Chávez era, with surveys indicating that his chosen successor will win a clear mandate to continue his policies of “21st Century Socialism.” … Capriles, a 40-year-old state governor who promised to manage the economy more effectively, wrote on his Twitter feed that this event – widely covered by the government-controlled media – was a “flagrant violation” of electoral rules that forbid campaigning in the two days prior to the vote. It was one of many claims of unfairness leveled by the challenger, who is disadvantaged by Maduro’s extra airtime on state news channels, his use of the presidential jet to fly to rallies, and resources and personnel from massive state-owned companies. In contrast, the vote itself has been lauded by outside observers as among the most advanced in the world.
The Venezuelan opposition has made an official complaint against the government following allegations that it broke the law by continuing its electoral campaign on state television. On the eve of the election, acting President Nicolas Maduro appeared on TV visiting the tomb of Hugo Chavez. The opposition candidate Henrique Capriles said his opponent was “violating all the electoral norms”. On Saturday, he launched an internet channel to broadcast his own campaign. Despite this, he said he had been “respecting the electoral rules, but those in power don’t know anything other than the abuse of power”. Almost 19 million Venezuelans will have the right to vote on Sunday for a successor to Hugo Chavez. Voting will be electronic – one machine will identify voters’ fingerprints, and a second will recognise identity card numbers and register the vote anonymously.
Venezuela’s first post-Chavez presidential election, taking place on April 14, has the unfortunate likelihood of suffering from the same shortcomings of the contest that occurred when Chavez was re-elected this past October: the vote was neither free nor fair but extraordinarily distorted by incumbent advantages and political intimidation. On October 7, Hugo Chavez was re-elected to a fourth term by a decisive margin, with 55 percent of the vote. In power since 1999, and emboldened with six-year terms and the right to indefinite reelection as a result of constitutional changes they forced through, the chavistas, now represented by Chavez’s anointed successor, Nicolas Maduro, appear as firmly entrenched as ever. Last October, the opposition candidate in next month’s contest, Henrique Capriles, mounted the most serious electoral challenge to Chavez since he assumed power, uniting disparate opposition forces, attracting many disillusioned former backers of Chavez, and giving hope to Venezuela’s youth in particular. If there had been a reasonably level playing field or an electoral climate free of the pervasive fear that Chavez’s forces provoked, Capriles might well have won the presidency. The April contest will be a rematch on the same unlevel playing field. Thus, it is unlikely that Capriles will secure the presidency.
Venezuela: Plots and sabotage: Chavez candidate spins conspiracy theories ahead of Venezuelan election | The Washington Post
Salvadoran mercenaries are plotting with Venezuela’s opposition candidate to assassinate interim President Nicolas Maduro. But wait, the plot thickens. Central American agents, along with former U.S. diplomats, are also plotting to kill the opposition candidate, Henrique Capriles. Those are just two of the conspiracy theories that Maduro has put forth ahead of Sunday’s election to replace Hugo Chavez. Maduro, who is running as Chavez’s hand-picked successor, also says the government has launched an investigation to determine if someone — U.S. agents, he has hinted — inoculated Chavez with the cancer that killed him March 5.Opposition leaders called the allegation laughable, but government officials insist it’s no joke. Such conspiracy theories don’t seem all that wild to some Latin Americans who resent decades of U.S. meddling in their affairs. In Venezuela, relations with the U.S. deteriorated after Washington briefly endorsed a coup that toppled Chavez for two days in 2002.
The acting president of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, has put a curse on citizens who do not vote for him in next week’s election. He likened his main rival candidate, Henrique Capriles, to Spanish conquerors fighting indigenous people in the 16th Century. A centuries-old curse, he said, would fall on those who did not vote for him. Mr Capriles responded by saying the only curse for Venezuelans would be if Mr Maduro won the election. The country goes to the polls next Sunday to elect a successor to Hugo Chavez, the long-time leftist leader who died of cancer last month. Opinion polls suggest Mr Maduro, who was Chavez’s deputy, has a lead of at least 10 points over his rival.